WARRINGTON Wolves would face “serious financial difficulty” if an extended shutdown of the rugby league season was deemed necessary.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, there will be no rugby league played at any level until April 3 at the earliest.

While that initial period only accounts for one Wolves home game – against Catalans Dragons on March 27 – chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick warned there is much more to it than just gate receipts.

He says the club will not be able to rely solely upon the personal wealth of owner Simon Moran and chairman Stuart Middleton to see them through and that they must “batten down the hatches.”

Fitzpatrick also says they and other Super League clubs will need Government help and was encouraged by the statement made by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday regarding business rates relief.

“Make no mistake, we are right in the trenches as well,” he said.

“Our ownership groups will see their income take a hit.

“Gate revenue, non-matchday revenue, hospitality, retail footfall – it’s all going to be hit.

“There’s more than gate receipts to consider. There’s a whole myriad of commercial revenue that is going to grind to a halt.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Wolves may not be able to rely upon gate receipts from home games for some time. Picture by Mike Boden

“All the clubs are in the same boat – some are more fortunate in terms of cash flow.

“It wouldn’t take too many home game cancellations before we are in serious financial difficulty.

“We’ve got to batten down the hatches, tighten our belts as much as possible and run a lean operation.

“These are concerning times and we need to stick together as an organisation.

“There will be a need for government support – I thought it was a positive motion from the Chancellor on Tuesday in terms of business rates relief, grants etc and that is something we will look to explore.

“We need government support and we’ll need it fast.”

Despite his warnings, however, Fitzpatrick is confident the club – and the sport as a whole – will emerge from the other side of the coronavirus crisis.

“Rugby league is a resilient sport with a lot of resilient people within it,” he said.

“This is where we need to stand up.

“This is where we need the support of our supporters and partners during these lean times.

“I would ask that they are patient and I’m confident we can come out of the other side if we stick together.”